Aussies roll out novel protest against Parliament fence plan

Australians rolling down the slope around Parliament House in Canberra, in a peaceful protest against a plan to build a security fence around the House. Mr Lester Yao, who came up with the idea, meant to get family and friends involved, but interest
Australians rolling down the slope around Parliament House in Canberra, in a peaceful protest against a plan to build a security fence around the House. Mr Lester Yao, who came up with the idea, meant to get family and friends involved, but interest grew after he put up a post about the event on his Facebook page.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

CANBERRA • Hundreds of Australians, dismayed by plans to build a security fence around the Parliament House in Canberra, protested against the plan by rolling down the slopes around the building yesterday.

Architect Lester Yao, who came up with the idea, originally meant to get only family and friends involved, but about 3,000 people registered their interest after he put up a post about the event on his Facebook page.

Mr Yao, in a post on the social media site, said: "It's a story I hear often from people who live in Canberra or visit Canberra and Parliament House. They walk up that beautiful green lawn and see the amazing view of Canberra, then they fall to their knees and roll down the hill.

"This simple, fun action embodies a very simple yet powerful symbol of democracy - that the citizens can walk up and over their elected government. At least, that's what I believe the architect behind the design of Parliament House intended."

The sloping lawns around the House are said to be designed to allow Australians to walk over the heads of their elected representatives. About 700 people turned up for the protest, according to the event's Facebook page.

The proposed fence is part of security measures costing A$60 million (S$63 million) that are to be put in place at Australia's seat of government, the BBC reported.

Mr Yao, speaking to news portal news.com.au, said he was disappointed that there was no public consultation about the fence, but added that the event was more about fun and creating memories.

"Afterwards, they can make up their own mind about what should be happening to it," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 18, 2016, with the headline 'Aussies roll out novel protest against Parliament fence plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe